Deje vu? Now Aston Martin to Indian business group?
Aston Martin is at the centre of an international takeover battle after Indian motors group Mahindra trumped an Italian bid for half of the British luxury carmaker.
Italian private equity fund Investindustrial reached a agreement with Aston Martin's owner, Investment Dar, but Mahindra made a higher offer, leaving the fate of Aston Martin hanging in the balance, sources familiar with the discussions said.
Ford Motor Co. sold Aston Martin in 2007 to Investment Dar, a Kuwaiti investment house, and another Kuwait fund, Adeem Investment, for 479 million pounds ($767 million).
One source said Investindustrial had bid between 200 million and 250 million pounds ($400 million) for the 50 percent stake and is confident of winning the race because it sees its proposal as "technically" superior, including a technical partnership deal with Daimler's Mercedes-Benz.
Investindustrial, owned by Italy's Bonomi family, is not new to luxury motor brands. In 2006, it bought Italian motorcycle maker Ducati and sold it for about 860 million euros last April to Volkswagen's Audi division.
Mahindra is the world's No. 1 tractor make. It also makes more sport utility vehicles than any other Indian motor manufacturer, and controls South Korean car maker Ssangyong Motor.
A second source familiar with the process said Mahindra was keen to access the Aston Martin technology to upgrade its existing vehicle platform.
Aston Martin sells approaching 15 percent of its DB9, Vanquish and other models in Asia. Wealthy Chinese buyers snapped up 110 cars in 2010 and sales are expected to have multiplied five-fold to over 500 this year.
Tata Motors, of course, owns Jaguar Land Rover, and has had even more success than Aston Martin in China, now Jaguar Land Rover's biggest market.
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